Exercise of Retrospection – A Powerful Tool That Can Change Your Life

An exercise of retrospection is a powerful tool. With it we gain self-knowledge, insights, and understanding about our behavior and subconscious defects or egos (things such as anger, fear, pride, lust etc.) that have manifested during the day but have gone unnoticed, and as they go unseen they are controlling our lives. As it is said, ‘Life is a series of events’. The flow of the day sets out various events that we go through, most of which bring about egos within us, regardless if we notice them or not. Sometimes we go through difficult or intense situations, a chaotic development of events where it is very hard to be in the present moment and detached from our egos. These types of events can easily pull us in and drag us along, which means that we act unconsciously. Even if the flow of events is ordinary, there are still emotions, thoughts, and/or impulses that manifest within us.

From an outburst of anger, to a subtle surging of envy, in the retrospective exercise we can see all of that and get knowledge about the egotistic state (ego) and how it controls us. This then can change our lives, simply because, in the exercise of retrospection, we are looking at the events from the perspective of the observer, rather than the participant. Continue reading

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Overcoming Inner Darkness Is Never Easy

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About a month ago I’ve read something which seems to be a common belief in the New Age circles and modern spirituality. The author basically stated that she does not recommend going against our desires (such as lust and gluttony) in a way that we abstain from them, because, as she believes, such will be naturally abandoned once the Spirit sees no more meaning in them. I partially agree with her, in the part that the Spirit within needs to gain enough experience of life through suffering in order to turn itself towards the highest goal – liberation from the physical existence and incarnating the spiritual within.

However, this certainly does not mean that one day a person will just naturally abandon things such as lust, and will have no problem in overcoming it, just because the Spirit is ready. When the latter is ready it means that you will have a strong interest and aspiration to carry out the spiritual work, but it won’t be easy. It never was.

There are many people with partial interest in doing the spiritual work, but soon after they realize it’s too difficult to go against ones own inner darkness, and that such work is not for them. The Spirit within these people was simply not ready enough to push them to do what it takes to attain the highest. They will find another spirituality which is more suiting to their current level. And that is fine.

But if you have a strong interest to carry out the Work, and you find yourself overcoming inner opposition, despite this sometimes being a very difficult thing to do, it means you are ready for it and can attempt to carry it out fully. Do not fall into false belief that it is an easy thing to do, and that if you do not find it easy you should wait for a while longer. There will never come such magical rosy time. Even if your Spirit has tremendous amount of experience and knowledge, you will still have to face a full blown subconscious elements such as lust, fear, pride, anger and many other egocentric states which will try their best to kick you out of the path of transformation, so that they can survive and continue imprisoning you.

This is the inner war which leads to graduation from this physical plane, and thus full liberation and divinization. It is the war in which the light of consciousness must be extracted from the darkness, and the latter eliminated fully. This is done by conscious and continuous effort. A simple act of abandoning or ignoring something will not make drives such as lust or anger go away.

Pride and Vanity – Obstacles to Spiritual Progress

Image courtesy of rick
Image courtesy of rick

Some days ago I’ve read one very useful and important teaching on pride and vanity, in the book Pistis Sophia Unveiled by Samael Aun Weor. The pride and vanity truly are one of the biggest obstacles to any real spiritual progress. It’s so easy to assume that we already know something, which then stops us from exploring the teaching (or a technique for spiritual development) deeper.

Pride also makes a person stuck on a spiritual level they achieved, making them feel good about themselves and establishing illusion of success in their mind, which in turn creates a new comfort zone, and a person gets stuck.

There is a lot to overcome on our way to true peace and freedom, and pride and vanity are huge part of that. Here comes the abovementioned teaching:

“The aggregate or psychic aggregate of vanity impedes the correct relationship with the superior parts of the Being.

Vanity is a relative of pride.

Vanity is a charlatan. Pride is silent.

Someone will speak about certain things because of vanity, yet, will keep silent about them because of pride.

By dint of pride, any wealthy person could have in his residence an antique car, possibly from the last century. However, because of vanity, this person would prefer to drive a car of the latest model.

Hurt vanity causes frightful suffering. However, hurt pride can cause death.

When vanity and pride are united, they can perform monstrosities. “

Self-observation for knoweldge of the self

This exercise is a continuation of the awareness of the present moment exercise which you can find here. Once you are aware of your external world, you gently and in a relaxed way bring your attention to your internal world. You observe emotions, thoughts and any other sensations that manifest within you. If you do that consistently, you will not only notice that those thoughts, emotions, sensations etc. are separate energies from who you really are, but you will also see how they are affecting and controlling your life.

Those inner states are in esoteric terminology known as “egos” (and more and more contemporary psychologists are using this term too). Egos are the inferior part of us – energies such as anger, pride, fear, lust, greed, gluttony, jealousy etc. They manifest in what is known as the five inferior centers of the body – intellectual, emotional, motor, instinctual and sexual center. These energies are part of the subconscious, and the spiritual work deals with transforming the subconscious into consciousness.

In the intellectual center they manifest as subconscious thoughts, which are thoughts not consciously conjured. The majority of the time it is these kinds of thoughts that go through our mind.

In the emotional center they manifest as emotions, and it is easy to notice them there. Emotions which we can feel can vary greatly. There is an enormous range of them, much more then those most commonly known. Usually it’s easy to notice big outbursts of emotions, but there are also subtle ones which can eventually snowball into outbursts or just keep us in low states without us realizing why we feel so low. Emotional center is covering big part of torso.

The motor center is located on the upper part of the back. Egos manifesting in the motor center can take control over our entire body. For example, a person is walking down the street and they hear some unusual sound in the distance. The person might suddenly turn around to see what is happening. This action will happen without the person really consciously deciding to do it. Another example is tapping your foot when waiting.

The instinctual center is a very basic one and is located in the lower part of your back. Usually this center keeps us out of danger, but egos that use it can cause a lot of trouble. The instinctual center can react with fear when there is no danger around, like for example when walking through a dark forest and imagining scary scenarios. Crippling fear then enters into the instinctive center and causes paralyzing sensations. Another manifestation is when you burn your finger on a stove and suddenly pull the finger back. Even though this instinct is a useful thing to have, it is much better when egos in the instinctual center are replaced by consciousness.

The last center is the sexual center and the ego that manifest there is lust. Sensations of lust can be easily observed and noticed, especially when an attractive person of opposite sex is seen. However, lust in the sexual center can also be triggered by fantasizing.

To be aware of what is going on within you and outside of you is really the complete practice of awareness. If you will only practice awareness of the external world, then your inner states will eventually pull you back into a daydream. The consciousness that we are is still very small and undeveloped, and it is like a piece of driftwood in a stormy sea – it is just a matter of time until it will be overridden by the waves of egos. To not allow that to happen you have to guard it by being aware of your egos and in this way you prevent from taking control. Buddha said how consciousness is like a candle flame amidst fiery winds – we need to surround that flame with our hands (self-observation) so that it doesn’t extinguish.

Similarly, like the previous exercise of awareness of the present moment, this one is also simple and after a period of time it becomes a natural way of living. It is the second foundational step towards the First Key for Awakening – elimination of the egos and their transformation into consciousness.

Awareness of the present moment

Being aware of the present moment is a very simple exercise, and it is a fundamental beginning of spiritual transformation. By being aware of the present moment, we activate our consciousness, which is what we are beyond our body, personality, thoughts and emotions. By activating it we step outside of constant stream of thoughts and emotions. Most often we are not aware of the present moment, so it’s necessary to apply an effort to be aware. Being in constant daydreams and thinking about the past or the future is much more common state to be in during daily life. There are many thoughts which pass through our mind without us intentionally thinking about them. Those thoughts then activate corresponding emotions which holds us even more in a state of unawareness.

To be aware of the present moment, you have to use your senses. You can start by becoming aware of what you see and observing the environment in which you are. Then start hearing sounds around you. If you are walking – feel the ground under your feet, clothes on your body, feel the heat or cold. Then notice smells and taste.

To be aware of all the five senses at the same time can be difficult, so just try and use senses that you can. Gradually you will be able to use more of them. Someone once said something that helped me to better understand awareness practice, and that was: “Just surrender yourself to the present moment.” So, feel yourself being in the here and now, and use the senses to ground yourself in this eternal moment. It’s very enjoyable to  have separete awareness practices, such as going for walks (preferably in nature) where you can put all your attention to this practice.

Being aware of the present moment doesn’t mean that one should stop thinking. Using the mind to think is necessary and we could not live our life without it. However, there is a difference between consciously using our mind to think, and having involuntary random thoughts racing through our mind at every second.

The awareness practice is the beginning of a spiritual journey to become more conscious and more in tune with the spiritual side of us. As such, it improves our system on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It benefits us in all spheres of life, regardless of our cultural background or occupation. By being aware, out attention is placed on the outside world and we do things more efficiently and more quickly; it improves all our relationships and we start to understand other people more; dreams get more clear and meaningful, which opens us more for teachings from the astral world.

If we make of this practice a normal way of living, then regerdless of how mundane situations can be, life will never again get boring.